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50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know

Have you ever lain awake at night fretting over how we can be sure of the reality of the external world? Perhaps we are in fact disembodied brains, floating in vats at the whim of some deranged puppet-master? If so, you are not alone - and what's more, you are in exalted company. For this question and others like it have been the stuff of philosophical rumination for centuries, from Plato to Popper. In a series of accessible and engaging essays, 50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know introduces and explains the problems of knowledge, consciousness, identity, ethics, belief, justice and aesthetics that have troubled the minds of great thinkers for centuries, from the ancient Greeks to the present day. Contents include: The brain in a vat, Plato's cave, Cogito ergo sum, The mind-body problem, The boo/hurrah theory, Ends and means, The categorical imperative, Acts and omissions, The rights of animals, The gambler's fallacy, Paradigm shifts, Occam's razor, Positive and negative freedom, Theories of punishment and Just war.
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Table of Contents

Introduction. PROBLEMS OF KNOWLEDGE: The brain in a vat; Plato's cave; The veil of perception; Cogito ergo sum; Reason and experience; The tripartite theory of knowledge. MIND MATTERS: The mind-body problem; What is it like to be a bat? The Turing test; The ship of Theseus; Other minds. ETHICS: Hume's guillotine; One man's meat...; The divine command theory; The boo/hoorah theory; Ends and means; The experience machine; The categorical imperative; The golden rule; Acts and omissions; Slippery slopes; Beyond the call of duty; Is it bad to be unlucky? Virtue ethics. ANIMAL RIGHTS: Do animals feel pain? Do animals have rights? LOGIC AND MEANING: Forms of argument; The barber paradox; The gambler's fallacy; The sorites paradox; The king of France is bald; The beetle in the box. SCIENCE: Science and pseudoscience; Paradigm shift; Occam's razor. AESTHETICS: What is art? The intentional fallacy. RELIGION: The argument from design; The cosmological argument; The ontological argument; The problem of evil; The freewill defence; Faith and reason. POLITICS, JUSTICE AND SOCIETY: Positive and negative freedom; The difference principle; Leviathan; The prisoner's dilemma; Theories of punishment; Lifeboat Earth; Just war. Glossary. Index.

About the Author

Ben Dupre read Classics at Exeter College, Oxford, before pursuing a career in publishing. He was responsible for children's reference books at Oxford University Press from 1992 until 2004 and, all told, has more than 20 years' experience of elucidating difficult ideas for a popular audience. He is the author of Places of Destiny (published in the US as Where History was Made), 50 Big Ideas You Really Need to Know and 50 Political Ideas You Really Need to Know. A devotee of baseball and a gifted performer on both harpsichord and viola da gamba, Ben lives in North Oxford with his family.

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